Q and A with 3HB – Geoff Dale!

Q and A with Three Heads’ Geoff Dale
Written by Bryan Clutz and Adam Travis
Jan. 10
Three Heads Brewing partners, Todd Dirrigl, Dan Nothnagle and Geoff Dale, left to right, holding one of their beers, The Kind IPA.

Three Heads Brewing partners, Todd Dirrigl, Dan Nothnagle and Geoff Dale, left to right, holding one of their beers, The Kind IPA. / JAY CAPERS /File photo

We love that Rochester is coming into its own as a well-respected beer city. And you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of this fact that Geoff Dale from Three Heads Brewing, one of the many Rochester-born craft beer offerings.

We recently sat down with Dale for a great conversation about Three Heads’ two-year anniversary celebration at Homegrown, from noon Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday at Lovin’ Cup,

Park Point Drive near Rochester Institute of Technology in Henrietta. We also touched on a lot of points about how beer and Rochester, when mixed together, form a great combination.Q. Geoff! Good to see you. Update us on the brewer’s perspective on beer in Rochester.

A. This is a good time to be a fan of beer in Rochester. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it were not for the work of the guys who have sort of laid the groundwork for beer in Rochester.

There’s also a lot of places around town that will give local beer that’s quality a chance. I like to think that we’re making a quality local beer. That’s what we shoot for.

And it’s true that all the brewers in Rochester get along. We all bust each other’s chops. We trade numbers and help each other out if someone wants to get a tap at a certain place. We all want each other to succeed and continue to do better, but in order to do that, we challenge and push each other. To me, if I’m making a good enough product, it’s going to sell and we don’t have to worry about competition. People sometimes expect there to be competition, but it’s all tying into the community.

Q. Speaking of community, tell us about the Homegrown celebration.

A. Homegrown is technically our anniversary party, but it really is a celebration of Rochester. I love this city. I was born and raised here. And this celebration is about everything that’s Rochester-made.

In fact, that’s the only beer you will be able to get at the celebration. There’s enough great local beer here, you don’t need to order anything else. There’s such good variety among all the brewers because we all do a signature flavor.

Homegrown will have three simple ingredients: beer, music and food. Beer really does bring people together. I bet you can’t name one concert you’ve been to where you didn’t have a beer. (He was right; we couldn’t.)

We thought last year that maybe 400 people would show up. Nope, 1,300 people came. Hopefully we can beat that number this year since the celebration goes on all day. This year’s Homegrown also has a great music line up with seven bands.

Our goal is to show people that Rochester is pretty awesome. It’s about breaking even and creating a scene.

Q. What about the plans for Three Heads?

A. As far as our plans for this year, we’re adding around five more states we distribute to very soon, bringing our distribution to 25 states and mostly to key beer bars. By the end of this year, if everything falls right, that’s when we put the shovel in the ground to build our own brewery.

Q. You do a lot of testing, sometimes in your own kitchen, of your beers before they go to production. How close is the original recipe to what customers pick up on the shelves?

A. I love music, and I’ll use this analogy: I think the homebrewed versions are a lot like a live show, where sometimes the sound gets a little bit more muddled. I think that when you home brew, sometimes you don’t have absolute control, so sometimes the flavors are a little off.

Picking up a beer on the shelves, it’s almost like it has a little bit of a shine and it snaps. It’s a lot more defined in the final recipe. It really comes down to control, and you have that in the brewery. Just like a music studio, you can tweak that easily in and during production.

Q. You guys were one of Rochester Real Beer Week’s biggest advocates last year. Are you happy with last year’s event, and the potential for it to grow?

A. Last year, I went to between 20 and 25 different beer festivals. The Rochester Real Beer Week festival was the best one I went to. Every brewery is represented by a real representative, and every brewery brings its “A” game.

As a guy who grew up in this town, it’s just really cool to see what it has become. It’s also a great event because no one cuts corners. The goal isn’t to overcharge the customers in order to churn a huge profit. It’s to put on a great show. And every person I’ve talked to has raved about how good it was. To be honest, the traditional beer fest is dead. What makes this work is it’s a block party with a band playing and the brewery representatives engage with people to learn about what styles they like.